Garden City Public Schools

56 Cathedral Avenue

Garden City, NY11530

Coordinator of Public Information

Catherine Knight, Ed. D.

516 478-1079

February 5, 2018

For Immediate Release:


By Mr. John Cronin, teacher

The GCMS Speech and Debate Club will have its greatest challenge on February 9, 2018, when the debate club from West End Secondary School (WESS) in Manhattan arrives to compete in a tournament. The GCMS Debate Club advisor, Mr. John Cronin, challenged WESS back in October. “WESS is one of the best debate clubs anywhere,” he stated. “One of my students suggested I challenge them to a tournament, and their advisor, Mr. Aristo Originos, readily agreed.”

The tournament will consist of three debates, and whichever school wins at least two of debates will be declared the 2018 winner. “We are making this a yearly event,” Mr. Cronin explained. The tournament winner will receive a large trophy, called the “City Cup” (Garden City and NYC), to keep at their school until next February when the clubs clash again for the honor of taking (or keeping) the Cup.

The three resolutions to be debated are:

  • The United States should adopt asingle-payer health care system
  • Felons should have their voting rights restored
  • It is not reasonable to believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life forms

Mr. Cronin explained that the upcoming tournament, as well as the incredible growth of the debate club, was due to the unwavering support of GCMS principal, Dr. Peter Osroff. “Dr. Osroff understands the importance of debate education. The inclusion of speech and debate into the 6th grade Study Skills curriculum led to the development of the club for 7th and 8th grades. What Dr. Osroff has done is to improve the critical thinking skills of all students at GCMS,” said Mr. Cronin.

Mr. Cronin shared important details and benefits of speech and debate:Debaters are not given their side of the resolution in advance. They may be affirmative (for) or negative (against) in regard to the resolution. Students must prepare for both sides. This uncertainty requires them to think through the issue with an open mind and, channeling empathy, anticipate how others might present a case in which they might not personally believe.

The research skills developed are invaluable. Children have a wealth of information at their disposal via the Internet, but they learn that research is not just using a search engine. It’s being able to identify truly important and trustworthy information, and to draw from a variety of sources. Students also are required to speak in public, a skill that only improves with practice. They have to think on their feet and listen carefully to their opponents, making notations regarding every argument and, in real time, find a defeater (counterargument) to refute each point.

Dr. Osroff stated, “Mr. Cronin brought the Debate Team from conception through development. He originated the speech and debate curriculum within the 6th grade Study Skills class that served as the foundation for students’ knowledge of the rules and practices of argumentation, logic, and verbal debate. Without question, Mr. Cronin’s efforts spearheaded students’ interest in the life skills of public speaking and speech and debate. Mr. Cronin initially volunteered his time with an unofficial Debate Team to gauge student interest in this area and the team quickly grew into one of Garden City Middle School’s most popular extra-curricular programs. Today, our student interest is so high that students need to compete for a spot to represent our school in competitions against other schools. We are thankful to Mr. Cronin for all of his efforts on the students’ behalf.”